The Munich Analogy

Joseph M. Siracusa

At the Munich Conference of 1938, France and England followed a policy of appeasement toward Adolf Hitler, choosing not to challenge him on his takeover of Czechoslovakia in the hope that German aggression toward neighboring states would stop there and that war in Europe could be averted. The failure of this appeasement approach in preventing the outbreak of World War II subsequently made the Munich agreement a metaphor for weakness in foreign policy, and the "lesson" of the Munich Conference has permeated the American political world ever since. The Munich analogy has not only been used consistently in American presidential and governmental rhetoric but has also affected foreign policy decisions at crucial moments in U.S. history. Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George H. W. Bush, from the 1940s to the 1980s, have used the example of Munich as a warning to the public about the inherent dangers of appeasing aggressors.


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See also Arbitration, Mediation, and Conciliation ; Cold War Evolution and Interpretations ; Cold War Origins ; Intervention and Nonintervention ; Isolationism .

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